One of the more unfortunate features of the 2012 presidential campaign is the prospect that neither Republicans nor Democrats will examine their own rigid ideology or acknowledge their failure to address honestly the crises of our time. Both parties, driven by the rhetoric of extremists, have staked out a tiny piece of political territory where they have invested all their energy. For Mitt Romney, every problem will be solved by lower taxes for the mythical “job creators” and cuts to government programs. For President Obama, it has become even more constricted. Despite the vaunted rhetoric, the only thing he seems steadfastly committed to is the “social agenda” of his most liberal base.
For someone like me, who voted “the hope” in the last election, it is more than disappointing to realize that reasons to vote for President Obama have dwindled to two. First, he is a likable man and good role model. Second, and more chilling, is revulsion at the thought of being in even a remote way aligned with the president’s “enemies,” who slanderously have accused him of the highest duplicity. (The latest charge from the likes of Sean Hannity and some Christian groups is that Obama will stage an assassination attempt and declare martial law before the election.)
Others too voted “the hope” the last time. But they also seem to have drunk the Kool-Aid. Among Democrats, except “Democrats for Life,” any criticism of the president’s policies and decisions seems to have been quietly suppressed. Thus there is little chance that serious voices will be heard to challenge our present policies. In fact, some Democrats act as if it is a betrayal to bring up questions like the following.
What will be the upshot of Obama’s expanded use of drone missiles and the horror they bring to innocent people? Is this, like targeted assassination and torture, our own rewriting of the rules of war and the principles of a just war? At the end of May, The New York Times ran an extended article with the title: “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will.” Are Democrats proud of a president with the will to kill? Or are they giving the president a free pass on policy that would have them screaming had it been attributed to George W. Bush?
Why did the president make no demands on the titans of Wall Street after he told them, “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks?” Instead, they were showered with billions of dollars, no strings attached. One does not have to be an economist to be deeply troubled by the president’s response to our economic crisis. Instead of “shovel-ready jobs,” we were given a “trickle down” theory pushed through by the same financial managers who ran Bush’s presidency. No wonder there is little room for the likes of Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz in an administration where now everyone seems to be a “free market fundamentalist.”
In the health care crisis, why was “single payer” taken off the table from the start? A strong case can be made that universal minimal coverage is the only way our health care system can be salvaged—with a tiered system that people can buy into as a special premium. And yet, this option was not even used as a point of leverage. Despite the mounting evidence of increasing unnecessary medical procedures and costly diagnostic tests, the only actions taken are those that profit insurance companies.
These are complicated issues, but Democrats seem willing to ignore them all for the sake of a second term for the president. But if the president is re-elected (and he is absurdly construed as a “socialist”), socialized medicine will never be given a hearing, nor will the present pathologies in our military and economic policies be addressed.
Democrats say that Republicans are “in the tank” for a rapacious capitalist ideology. Republicans say that the Democrats are “in the tank” for liberationist secular ideology. Maybe they are both right. And perhaps the best response is to reject both parties in this race to elect the best president money can buy.
I have been warned that a write-in vote is a vote for Obama. I have also been told that it is a vote for Romney. Well, it is also a vote against both of them. It may show, perhaps, that I am out of step with the American zeitgeist and its vaunted view of its political wisdom. A likely worse fate would be to fall for it.